ALAMOSA, Colo. -- Big game animals continue to roam western Colorado forests hit hard this summer by wildfires, and some wildlife officials say they're trying to spread the word that hunters and fishermen are still welcome.
Creede-area wildlife manager Brent Woodward said many animals survived and fish are still swimming in the Rio Grande River.
The West Fork Complex Fire charred more than 171 square miles in the Rio Grande National Forest in June. The fires burned between the cities of Creede, South Fork and Pagosa Springs, fueled by beetle-killed spruce. Damage was minimal, but hundreds of people, mostly tourists, were forced to evacuate.
Woodward said many hunters have contacted officials to find out if hunting is available this season. Some hunters already have decided to turn in their tags and skip this season or change hunting areas.
The number of returned tags out of the 1,265 issued in 2013 for the area won't be known until later, according to the Alamosa Valley Courier (http://tinyurl.com/myerv3m).
Officials say a heavy monsoon season enabled new forest growth that is nutritious and attractive to big game. The growth is expected to continue throughout the hunting season, providing excellent forage resources for years to come.